The 6th North Carolina Regiment

  • Authorized on April 13, 1776 in the North Carolina State Troops as the 6th North Carolina Regiment.
  • Organized in spring and summer 1776 at Wilmington to consist of eight companies from Wilmington and Hillsborough Districts.
  • Adopted on May 7, 1776 into the Continental Army and assigned to the Southern Department.
  • Relieved on February 5, 1777 from the Southern Department and assigned to the Main Continental Army.
  • Assigned on July 8, 1777 to the North Carolina Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Reduced to a cadre 1 June 1, 1778 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania and relieved from the Main Continental Army and assigned to the Southern Department.
  • Reorganized in fall 1778 at Halifax to consist of 9 companies.
  • Assigned on January 11, 1779 to Sumner's Brigade, an element of the Southern Department.
  • Reduced to a cadre on February 11, 1779 at Purysburg, South Carolina.
  • Disbanded on January 1, 1781.

FURTHER READING

ENGAGEMENTS

UNIT HISTORY

Formation of North Carolina's first two continental regiments was authorized by the Provincial Congress in 1775, in response to a proposal by the Continental Congress to form a Continental Army. After the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge and later British forays in the lower Cape Fear region in the spring of 1776, the Continental Congress resolved that North Carolina could raise two additional regiments--the North Carolina Assembly decided to raise four more regiments.

Thus, the 6th North Carolina Regiment was formed in 1776. It was formed from men from the Wilmington and Hillsborough Military Districts, which made up nearly one-half the state including much of the backcountry. They were organized at Halifax, North Carolina, under the command of Col. Alexander Lillington, hero of the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge.
When ready to march north to join the Main Continental Army, they were instead called south to defend Charleston against a suspected second assault in 1776 (after the lst attack was repulsed in June). In the meantime, Col. Lillington stepped down due to ill health. He was replaced by Col. Gideon Lamb. The British did not return in 1776. The North Carolina Line spent a miserable winter near Charleston without the supplies promised by South Carolina.

The 6th North Carolina Regiment marched north in the spring and joined the Main Continental Army, brigaded under Gen. Francis Nash. They were in the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown, being at the Chew House in the latter and serving as rear guard for the American withdrawal during which Brig. Gen. ?? Nash was mortally wounded. They were noted by one diarist as having captured sixteen guns during the attack, but having had to abandon them in the retreat.

They wintered at Valley Forge in Brig. Gen. Lachlan Macintosh's Brigade. The North Carolina troops were noted by Washington to be the poorest supplied of all the destitute men there. Their desertion rate was 10%, the lowest in an Army that averaged 18%.

In the reductions of 1778, the 6th North Carolina Regiment was merged with the 1st North Carolina, assuming the lower regimental number. The supernumerary officers of the 6th were sent home to North Carolina to recruit. All troops recruited by the 6th North Carolina Regiment for the next several years were taken immediately into the other North Carolina units. The 6th North Carolina Regiment ceased to exist officially in early 1781.

In the meantime, the men of the 6th North Carolina Regiment, now the lst, served at Monmouth, being engaged early and again late in the day, and in the Hudson Highlands. Some of them took part in the frontal assault by North Carolina troops of Wayne's Light Infantry on Stony Point.

In November of 1779, they were ordered south to Charleston during the worst winter of the war. They arrived in time to take part in the defense and, along with the Virginians, took part in the only sortie during the siege.

On May 12, 1780, they went into captivity with the fall of Charleston. Many of them were sent to the prison hulks in the harbor while others were imprisoned on John's Island. The 6th North Carolina Regiment disappeared from the field and on paper.

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